School of Social Sciences

Asian Studies

Further information

    Asian Studies A-Z Staff Profiles


Asian Studies, as a field of critical enquiry, has a long history of critiquing and interrogating Western theories of social, economic, political and cultural development. Asian Studies at UWA has since its beginnings in 1993 focused on educating students in Asian languages, as well as providing a critical understanding of Asian societies, history and cultures. In addition to equipping students with the necessary linguistic competence to live and work in or conduct further research on Asia, Asian Studies aims to challenge, rethink and develop accepted forms of Western knowledge across traditional disciplines that are broadly located within social sciences and cultural studies.

Key Areas of Research

The Discipline of Asian Studies seeks to foster a vibrant research culture, with staff members actively engaged in research and dissemination of Asia-related research, with a specific focus on the research strengths and strategic objectives of the School of Social Sciences.

The Discipline of Asian Studies fosters strong institutional, interdisciplinary and international research and teaching links. The interdisciplinary focus is also reflected in the key research strengths of the discipline, in which staff pursue individual and collaborative research projects and have expertise to supervise postgraduates and Honours students.

The undergraduate language programs are suitable for complete beginners and for students who have studied a language at secondary school.

The two key research areas of the Discipline are: 

1. Social change, identity and gender in Asia

Much of our research focuses on the dynamics of social change, identity and gender in Asia. Our research approaches are typically collaborative and highly interdisciplinary, and engage with a broad range of topics from environmentalism and gender in Asia, social constructions of intimate relationships and gendered identities in corporate context, and the ways in which cosmetic surgery practices and the technologies of the body are utilised by individuals in contemporary Asia. Our research also seeks to link our expertise to the Australian context and to understand the experiences and lived realities of Asian diasporas in Asia.

2. Culture, Media and Politics in Asia

Staff in Asian Studies conduct research on the diverse cultures of Asia. ‘Culture’ refers to many aspects of a given society and is an important element of research on ethnic and national identity, as well as cultural heritage and globalisation. The place of media in Asian societies is also a focus for research amongst Asian Studies staff as they explore the various ways in which the media – including the ‘old media’ of literature, print and broadcasting, and the ‘new media’ of the Internet, mobile technologies and social networking – both shape representations of identity, ethnicity, social class and gender, and are used by different social agents for various agendas. In all of these studies, both of culture and the media, the role of politics plays a crucial role and is therefore another focus of research in Asian Studies. ‘Politics’ in this instance refers to the contestation between different social groups – such as that between the nation-state and civil society – to assert a particular position within the public sphere or the private realm. 

Undergraduate majors in Asian Studies

Asian Studies offers five BA majors in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indonesian and Asian Studies, which can each be taken as first or second major options. Students undertaking a language-focused will typically take 7 units of language study and one country-specific unit taught in English that focuses on, and introduces students to, social sciences or cultural methodologies in an Asian country-specific context. Students are also encouraged to take part of their studies in the country of their target language through the Study Abroad programme.

Postgraduate study options in Asian Studies

The Discipline of Asian Studies offers opportunities for students to undertake an Honours program in Asian Studies, with the opportunity to specialise in any Asian country. Please contact the Honours coordinator for further details.

Postgraduate Research Opportunities

We welcome interest from prospective domestic and international research postgraduates, particularly in areas of staff expertise.  Please see the individual staff pages for more information or contact the Faculty of Arts postgraduate student administration team for further information:  

Our core researchers


China Field Study Form